Boller Brothers, Architects and Theater Designers

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Kansas City, Missouri, and Los Angeles, California


Robert Otto Boller

Carl Heinrich Boller

Carl Heinrich and Robert Otto Boller had been the controlling figures in the construction of about 150 theatres nationwide by 1929, either as the original architects or as advisory or consulting architects. Most have subsequently been destroyed. The brothers were two of ten children of immigrants Charles William Boller of Frankfurt, Germany, and Pauline Emelia Grzmacher of Falkenberg, Germany. They located to St. Joseph, Missouri. Little is currently known of the elder of the two designers, Carl Boller.[3]

Robert Boller’s formal education ended with the eighth grade, in St. Joseph. He was apprenticed to his brother Carl, and then began practicing architecture in 1905. He later worked for Sullivan & Concidine. Robert became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1917. By 1919 he had joined his brother in a partnership, but the later Midwestern business was operated under Robert Boller & Dietz Lusk, Jr., Associate Architects. Their offices were in Kansas City, Kansas, Baltimore, Maryland, and Los Angeles, California. Carl ran the Los Angeles office.

Perhaps the most beautiful theatre is the Missouri Theatre in St. Joseph, designed by Robert Boller. It is described as an architectural gem, and was featured in the American Heritage Magazine (unknown date). The Great Depression greatly affected the amount of work available, particularly in the Midwest. Work eventually recovered, but not on the scale or grandeur of the 1920’s. Robert Boller designed about forty additional theatres after the Depression. He closed his offices in 1957, and died in 1962 at Garland, Texas.[3][a]

This page is a contribution to the publication, Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. See the Format and contents of Nebraska architect entries page for more information on the compilation and page organization.

Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings

Educational & Professional Associations

1945: President of the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.[8]

Buildings & Projects



Orpheum Theater (1915), 12th & P, Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][2]

Lincoln Theater (1924; demolished 1962), 1227 N St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][2][4][b]



Stuart Theater (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][c]

State Theater (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[1]

Pioneer Theater (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[1]


The Missouri Theatre (n.d.), St. Joseph, Missouri.[3][7][e]

Ben Bolt Theatre (n.d.), Chillicothe, Missouri.[5][8][f]

Lowe's Midland and Plaza (n.d.), Kansas City, Missouri.[5][8][f]

Mary Lou Theatre (n.d.), Marshall, Missouri.[5][f]

Degraw Theatre (n.d.), Brookfield, Missouri.[8]

Grand Theatre (n.d.), Columbia, Missouri.[8]

Davis Theatre (n.d.), West Plains, Missouri.[8]

Northside Theatre (n.d.), St. Louis, Missouri.[8]

Brookside Theatre (n.d.), Kansas City, Missouri.[8]

Apollo Theatre (n.d.), Kansas City, Missouri.[8]

Waldo Theatre (n.d.), Kansas City, Missouri.[8]

Orpheum Theatre (n.d.), Hannibal, Missouri.[8]

Princess Theatre (n.d.), Aurora, Missouri.[8]

Dickinson Theatre (n.d.), Webb City, Missouri.[8]

Capitol Theatre (n.d.), Jefferson City, Missouri.[8]

Missouri Theatre (n.d.), Maryville, Missouri.[8]

Patio Drive-In (n.d.), Cameron, Missouri.[8]

Drake Theatre (n.d.), Bolivar, Missouri.[8]

Tower Theatre (n.d.), Springfield, Missouri.[8]

Memorial Christian Church (n.d.), 72nd & Paseo, Kansas City, Missouri.[8]


Empress Theater (n.d.), Sacramento, California.[8]

White Theater (n.d.), Fresno, California.[8]

South Carolina

Colony Theater (n.d.), Easley, South Carolina.[8]


Empress Theater (n.d.), Grand Rapids, Michigan.[8]


Wichita Theater (n.d.), Wichita Falls, Texas.[8]

The Texas Theater (n.d.), San Antonio, Texas.[8]


Ute and The Peak Theaters (n.d.), Colorado Springs, Colorado.[8]

Boulder Theater (n.d.), Boulder, Colorado.[8]

The Kiva Theater (n.d.), Grand Junction, Colorado.[8]


Government Theater (n.d.), Peck, Montana.[8]

Kansas [g]

Palace Theatre (n.d.), Wichita, Kansas.[8]

Wichita Theatre (n.d.), Wichita, Kansas.[8]

Crest Theatre (n.d.), Wichita, Kansas.[8]

Nomar Theatre (n.d.), Wichita, Kansas.[8]

Uptown Theatre (n.d.), Wichita, Kansas.[8]


Criterion Theater (n.d.), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[8]

Coleman Theater (n.d.), Miami, Oklahoma.[8]

*See Note [h]


a. The biographical sketch derives from a Mary L. Marriott interview, reference [3], given below.

b. Opened in 1924, the Lincoln was a 1600 seat theatre; R. E. Hall & Company, consulting engineers.[4]

c. Davis & Wilson, Lincoln, Nebraska.

d. Reference [5] credits Robert Boller with designing more than 1,000 theatres in nearly every state. Reference [8] credits Robert Boller with designing theaters "in the hundreds."

e. Seating capacity was 1,600, and the front exterior was of colored terra cotta.[7]

f. Robert Boller & Dietz Lusk, Jr. Associate Architects.[5]

g. Reference [8] also states, “And other theaters too numerous to mention throughout Kansas.”

h. Reference [8] also states that he designed theaters in Illinois, Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, Mississippi, Wyoming, and British Vancouver, Canada.


1. Noelle Soren correspondence, November 17, 1980; Boller Brothers file, Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office.

2. Thomas Lee Kaspar, comp. Boller Brothers drawings, in Inventory of architectural records in the archives of Davis Fenton Stange Darling, Lincoln, Nebraska. 1996. Nebraska State Historical Society, RG3748, Box 16.

3. Mary L. Marriott, “The Boller Brothers and Their Magnificent Threatres”, from an interview with John Boller, (n.d.); transcript in Boller Brothers file, Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office.

4. Ken Roe, “Lincoln Theatre,” accessed through the Cinema Treasures website on January 22, 2013,

5. Daily Edition Undated and Unsourced newspaper clipping in Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, architect files.

6. “Importance of Good Equipment,” Associated Publications. Undated and Unsourced newspaper clipping in Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, architect files.

7. Boller Brothers Architects, “A Few Recent Theatre Designs,” Kansas City, Missouri and Los Angeles, California.

8. “Robert O. Boller,” T.S. 3pp, recieved December 15, 1980. In Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, architect files.

Page Citation

D. Murphy and E. F. Zimmer, “Boller Brothers, Architects and Theater Designers,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, January 22, 2013. Accessed, August 11, 2022.

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